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Archive for the ‘women’ Category

The unfortunate shelving of the movie ‘Heroine’ by Madhur Bhandarkar and the subsequent drama that has ensued has cemented my view that Bollywood is as misogynistic as I thought it was.

A pregnant woman is kicked out of a movie, the reason cited for that is the movie is heavily dependent on the lead actress, and she is required to be shown smoking, drinking etc, and the schedule is hectic. While it is true that pregnancy tires a woman out, it is not a disease or a condition. A pregnant woman gets as much work done as a non-pregnant one does. Also, the actress in question was not going to really smoke or drink anyway, shew as only going to act like she was, on-screen. And it is only the Indian directors that are doing this, Penelope Cruz was working on Prates of the Caribbean – 3 throughout her pregnancy, and no one kicked her out or blamed her for being pregnant. The worst part is that the said director of the movie actually blamed this actress and said he is shelving this movie for her own good and that this whole process has caused him a lot of anguish. Wah, talk about being dishonest.

Not only is it unfair to Aishwarya Rai that she is being discriminated on, she is also being blamed for the movie being canceled and the subsequent loss of jobs for hundreds of technicians, artists etc. When she signed on the movie she was given a schedule that stated that filming would be over by the end of July, which meant that she would be done with it by the time she was 5 months pregnant, and let’s face it, most women don’t even show the first 5-6  months. And while the first trimester brings with it glorious nausea and fatigue, surely there are ways to get to work in spite of that. We all have worked 8 hour days through out first trimesters, we weren’t kicked out of our jobs for being pregnant. And if Bhandarkar was so worried about Aishwarya’s health he would have made the movie but would have been extra careful about her, not just gone to the press saying she caused him anguish. Way to treat an expectant woman. If he was more worried that she would start putting on weight, and would not look the part, he should have come out and given that reason, rather than hide behind the “oh this is all for her good” wall like a coward.

While some might call her unprofessional, and I agree to an extent, it is not fair to expect a woman in her first trimester to go announcing to the whole world that she is having a baby, when most gynecologists and everyone else keeps warning her about an early miscarriage, throwing the high first trimester, first pregnancy miscarriage statistics in her face.

Finally, I feel like if the woman in question has no complaints about her working when pregnant, and when she is physically able to perform her duties, and look the part, in this case, there is no valid reason for kicking her out except that there is this huge reservation in the Indian psyche about the lack of desirability of a mother. While men can get married, have children, grow a paunch and still get roles as teenagers, women, God forbid so much as have a baby(while still looking smoking hot) are relegated to bit parts or bhabhi, ma roles. Way to kick her while she is down, Bollywood.

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Being a woman in India is hard. Being a woman who wears whatever she wants is harder. God forbid you are a woman who wears what she wants AND goes where she wants all by herself. You are surely a SLUT! Yes, that is what most modern women who speak their mind and wear what they want are called. And that is why I get the motivation behind slutwalk. But I have a problem with it.

If the idea of slutwalk is a march where women will ” dress in everyday wear (to symbolize ordinary women that are sexually assaulted during everyday activities”, then all I have to do is to walk down to the grocer or to the bus stop dressed in my regular clothes. Irrespective of whether I am wearing a salwar kameez, a sari, jeans, mini skirt or a burkha, I know there will be hoots and catcalls as I walk. I know there will be people winking suggestively, and trying to say things to me. So what I wear does not really protect me from being assaulted, and my talking about the assault is only going to make men term me a slut for having invited the assault.

But why should the woman call herself a slut? I am no prude but that word bothers me. Even if sarcastically, I don’t want to call myself a slut, because sarcasm is lost out on a lot of people, and they take it literally and my calling myself one will only encourage such people to behave worse with women. And that is the problem I have with Slutwalk. Nuances and sarcasm are not well understood by most men of the ogling and sexual harassment variety, and if they take the Slutwalk literally, it gives them more opportunity to do more of the same, i.e., continue to degrade women in public. Would that not defeat the purpose of the walk?

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You know how women are always told to ‘adjust’, especially after marriage? While it is true that both the husband and wife need to adjust, because the relationship is so new and evolving, putting the onus on the woman is just wrong. Today, I have two adjustment stories, one that led to a fantastically happy family, and another that led to a miserable relationship. The inspiration for this post is this post called 3 Adjustment Stories from Women’s Web.

The first story is of my parents. They fell in love when they were colleagues at their respective first jobs, and informed their parents about their intention to marry. As expected there was much opposition but seeing as the two were steadfast in their commitment to each other, both sets of parents relented. But trouble for my mom had only begun. Since she was not the one to choose the bride, my dad’s mother did not take very kindly to my mom from the beginning. My mom was routinely asked to wash the clothes of the whole family, chided for being not so conversant with work around the house(she was the youngest of 6 kids and was not used to so much house work, but then so was my dad), taunted for being an outsider etc. All this was in the absence of my father, who, in those days, used to go to work, then go to university in the evenings to get his MTech degree. Not wanting to trouble him with all this, my mom never spoke up. One fine Sunday my dad saw how my mom was being treated and felt very bad. He talked with my mom and told her that he will be by her side through all this and will make sure that his mother changes his ways. My mom, being the generous spirit that she is, said all she wanted was his support and she did not want his family to break apart and that ‘they will adjust’ as a couple. And they did. Whenever my mom was in a situation where my grandmother would have things to say to her, my dad would take all the brunt of the criticism. My mom left for work at 7:00am, but she was still expected to get up and cook breakfast and lunch before she left, all this after cleaning the house and taking a shower. My dad would get up with her every single day and help her in the kitchen, and took over the responsibility of most tasks around the house. He then would also take 100% responsibility of getting me and my sister ready for school and pack our lunches. Slowly my grandmother realized that she could not be a third wheel in the relationship, and all her efforts to ‘show’ my dad that this girl was not right for him were futile. In time she learnt her lesson and mellowed down. This is how they managed for 25 years and we learnt the importance of having a relationship that goes both ways in terms of trust and support. This, in my opinion, is an adjustment story that was a success, because our family was happy and there were good vibes all around. We love our grandmother, but her not treating my mom well will always tar our memories of her.

The second story is of one of my cousins. His parents arranged his marriage to his beautiful MBA girl, who used to work. After marriage she was asked to quit and stay home, and look after her in-laws. She agreed. She was made to do all the work around the house, taunted for being tardy(if she really was or not, I have no idea) all in the presence of her husband, who merely nodded along with his mamma. Then they had a baby girl and of course the inlaws and the husband ‘wanted’ a boy and she was forced to get pregnant again. All this while she kept complaining to her parents who always asked her to ‘adjust’ as did the husband, who said she is lucky to be married to him and she should stop whining and produce a male heir and it would make everyone happy. Another girl and all hell broke loose. We heard stories of her being beaten and abused. My father tried to intervene but was brushed off and chided for interfering in their internal matters. The poor girl kept adjusting to all this, thinking it was all a part and parcel of being married. The want to a son made her conceive again, and it was another girl. The last time I heard of her, she was telling my mom that she was in that relationship only because of the 3 little girls, and that separating at the first signs of a bad marriage would have done her a world of good. ‘Adjustment’ did not work for her, she says, because she is the unhappy one in the relationship, and she is afraid the daughters are also going to face the same fate.

So there you have it. Adjustment with a pinch of salt.

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Please adjust.

This post got me thinking. Why is asking for divorce such a big deal that women are asked to stay in unhappy marriages than have a happy divorce?

A good friend was working in an MNC, a very smart girl, very independent and her family loved in a cosmopolitan city, not in the city where most of the people of her community live. When it came time for marriage, since she was ok with it, the parents started to look for a suitable partner from the community. Since she was well-educated and working, it was hard to find a match, and this is where she made her first mistake. In order to appease her parents, she agreed to marry this guy who she barely interacted with.

The wedding happened amidst all fanfare (and dowry/gifts) and the married couple moved to Bangalore where she had a job(he was apparently working too) and that is when her troubles began. Seemingly there was no problem. Like people reminded her time and again, he did not beat her, or verbally abuse her, well, he just did not talk. About anything at all. His mom would show up every few months and shout commands at the DIL while the son sat on his fat ass, watching TV, or sometimes just staring into space. She was frustrated, and did not know what he thought about her, whether he liked her, or did not like her, cared about her or not. Because there was NO TALKING AT ALL. Needless to say, their marriage was not consummated even after 6 months after the wedding. She talked to her mom. Her mom asked her to ‘have patience’ because according to her most arranged marriages are like that. She waited, for another 6 months, until the point that she could not take it anymore. She had dreams of a happy marriage, of a loving partner. She talked to her parents, this time about separation. They were livid. They thought they had given their daughter ‘too much freedom’ and that she was finding it hard to adjust to married life because she had too many expectations. Does he abuse you? Does he have a mistress? Does he drink or do drugs? The answers to all these questions was a NO. She could not tell them that she was still a virgin, after a year of being married, that her husband never looked at her with love or even so much as smiled at her. There was something wrong with him, is what she believed, and so, against her parents’ wishes she started the separation proceedings. The first lawyer she went to(a woman) asked her to ‘adjust’. She dumped her and went to another, who heard her story, this time she also told him that the marriage wasn’t consummated as yet, and those were the grounds for a separation. Today she is single, happy and much more relaxed. The demons of her past still haunt her when she visits her parents and they cry about her being divorced, but she does not care. She says she has been happier in the last few months of her being separated, than she had even been married. Whenever someone asks her why her husband left her, she says I left him. And lives with her head high. She does not know what would have happened had she adjusted, but the one year that she did she was not happy. And that is what matters.

The reason for narrating this story is that a lot of people say if there are no red flags in a marriage you should always try to make it work, and in my friend’s story there were NO RED FLAGS, the kind that most people care about, anyway, and still she was unhappy and miserable.

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I was reading this post by IHM and then this original post by Desi Ghee and Coffee that prompted IHM’s. The original article was about how divorces have become so common because feminism has been taken too far by women. As expected, there are a lot of provoking and thought-provoking things said in both posts, and have been covered really well by both bloggers, but one that stood out to me was this:

Men will always be men. They are all stupid. They can never adapt to anything.

In one statement, this person has effectively painted all the men on earth with this generic brush that shows men as weak, stubborn and stupid individuals who will not lift a finger to do anything to make their relationship better.

I want to know what “Men will always be men” means.

Does it mean they will never change to include another person in their life and that they need their wives to be like their mothers, always providing, and never expecting anything in return?

Does it mean they will never show any empathy for this person they married, never treat her like an equal?

Does it mean they need to be mothered all the time, and there cannot be any expectations of them?

Does it mean they will beat the shit out of the wife if she so much as tries to ask for what is her right? Does it mean they will be nothing more than a wall flower at home while the wife breaks her back with all the chores?

Why is men adapting such a big deal anyway? Don’t men adapt when they change jobs, or if the boss changes and has different ways of working? Don’t they adapt when the company policy changes? Why, then, are they unable to adapt when there is another person to share their life with?

What does it say about the thousands of men/husbands who wake up everyday, make the morning coffee, take a shower before the wife does and give her the time she needs in the morning to get herself up and ready for the day ahead? What does it say about those husbands who change diapers, load the dishwashers, clean the bathroom and vacuum the floors?

It is such regressive ideas about men that are doing most men a disservice. Most men I know, especially of my generation, are equally, if not more, invested as their wives are in the household. Are they not ‘men’ because they have adapted to a life of give AND take?

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This is the tag from IHM:

If you are a woman,

Have you ever wanted something that is considered ‘manly’ ? Like a basketball, a cell phone, a dog, a camera or a new laptop? A new car or motor bike? Ever wanted to be a pilot? A doctor or not a nurse? And the manliest want of them all – The remote! ;)

As a kid did you enjoy playing with a bat and a ball?

There was a time when books were considered ‘manly’, women authors had to pretend to be men – would you say books are still rather manly – women should want to embroider and crochet?

If you are a man,

Have you ever wanted something that only women are supposed to want – like bags, shoes, clothes, creams, perfumes, babies, flowers? A peaceful home and a happy family? Have you ever been afraid of the dark or of insects?

As a kid did you ever want to play ‘teacher-teacher’, cooking or did you like playing with a doll? Have you ever enjoyed cooking? Bought something in pink? Loved chocolates?

Growing up was a tough time for me. Not at home but whenever I got dragged to weddings and parties. I was this taller and wider than average girl who hated wearing even the smallest of earrings and always wore cotton. My aunts and all well-meaning relatives always tried to corner me in order to lecture me on making an effort to dress up like a girl, all of which I promptly brushed off. Things changed as I grew older, but while my more girly cousins and friends moved to pretty jewelry, bindis, sarees and the like, I merely moved from cotton dresses to plain shirts, blouses, neutral pants and skirts! Sure I like my 7-8 pairs of shoes and 3 handbags, but deep down I still am that little girl who is comfortable being in the background in her plain clothes!

I am a bundle of contradictions, and in no way do I really conform to the female stereotype. I am your average woman who likes some girly things and dislikes some!

  1. I kill any bug that finds its way into our home. (I have a process that uses one rolled up envelope and a piece of tissue paper!)
  2. I don’t like to sit at the kitchen table and talk woman-stuff when we visit people. I prefer if both men and women sat in the living room and talked. I like to talk politics, sports and current affairs more than ‘what I cook’, ‘what someone else cooks’, recipes and jewelers, but I also like to talk about latest bolly-gossip!
  3. I don’t apply makeup. Only when there is a BIG party or that one time when I got married. Otherwise I am a wash my face and apply moisturizer girl. I also don’t thread my eyebrows or go for regular facials, manicure and pedicure. I do apply/reapply nail polish though. And I do love to dress up, even if it means wearing a non-fussy, color-coordinated outfit and pretty earrings and necklace etc.
  4. I am a bad cook. The husband cooks better than I do. He also has a lot more patience while cooking, he waits for the mustard seeds to crack, while I just dump everything in the oil and put a lid on it!
  5. I am not a very good housekeeper. I let books accumulate in room corners, and conveniently ignore their existence until I need to read that particular book again!
  6. I wear more blacks and browns and navy blues than pinks or corals or reds. I also don’t have tens of bags and shoes. I have some, but not too many!
  7. I prefer to sit and read a book than dress up and go out to party!
  8. I don’t do any puja. I don’t fast for the long life of my husband. I don’t wear mangalsutra or toe rings or bangles. The only time my Hindu roots show up is once a year for Varalakshmi Vratam.
  9. I am not a damsel in distress. I prefer lifting my own weight. (Although I do ask the husband to lift things that I really cannot!)
  10. I don’t go all awwww on stuffed toys. Neither on pink streamers, glitter or anything else pink!

And because I don’t want to wear blue pants all my life(yes that is the curse if you don’t tag 12 others), I tag: Tangytrivia, Nuttie Natters, Deepti, Nabeela(even though you deleted your blog, you can guest blog, here or anywhere else you like!), Mayur, Aniruddha, Ugich Konitari, Roop, Parul, Anju, Anu Russel and Sraikh.

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In the last post I talked about how I am turning into my mother. Well, there are a thousand other aspects where I would never be like her! Cooking, for example. I wouldn’t in a million years be able to cook as yummy as my mom does. Or display as much patience and forgiveness as she does. No way! She, in turn keeps telling me how she could never be as perfect a human being as her mother was. My grandmother was a picture of perseverance and calmness. Now if these qualities are only deteriorating over generations, one can only imagine how bratty and short-tempered my grandkids are going to turn out. Oh, well, I knew all the brutishness I displayed in my teens would come to bite me in my backside some day.

Another thing I cannot do, is to shut up about how hard I work blah blah. My mom has been, without a break, getting up at 4:00am, cooking the various breakfasts and lunches and leaving home by 7 EVERY SINGLE DAY. And she has never ever uttered a peep about it. Me, on the other hand, get up royally at the crack of 7, stumble through my morning routine, and get to work. Eat out whenever I don’t feel like cooking. Have the husband cook too many times to count. And have the gall to complain to my mom that I work too hard. And the gullible mother that she is, she pities me and says if she was here she would do all that for me. Well, she did! When my parents were here last year they cooked, cleaned, fed and pampered me. They came here for a break but all they did was to pamper me! I can never see myself being so active and accommodating to my kids. I mean, who would get off the sofa and slave in the kitchen when there is food delivery, no?

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